July 18, 2022 Subject:
End of a three-day run, and one of the classic Dead shows; the Ally Pally. The first night was inconsistent, with technical problems, and one set. The middle night is better, with many highlights. This night is arguably the best of '74; or at least has the best set of '74 (some say the first, most say the second set). In person this was a five hour show (w/Seastones & intermissions). Every song has its moments as does every player! The show is usually first noted as having the biggest Eyes of all time – in length, but in other ways as well. Is the show better than 6/26, 8/6, or 9/14? Maybe the important thing is that it's different. The SBD does not cover the whole show, but an enterprising Brit taped all three nights. This somewhat shaky AUD covers patches and the last song and a half. Both sources sometimes lose Bobby's guitar. Ned Lagin said: "[This] night turned out to be an exceedingly high night. Some of the people from Pink Floyd were there to hear what we were doing with computers and electronics, and to hear the Grateful Dead. Some people from Apple Records [too] and we came out and all of us, I think, just played phenomenally."
First Set. Scarlet as an opener! The first since 7/3, but it would not happen again until 4/15/88. However, the Scar>Mexi from the first night is better. The SBD mix is sabotaged, then things go screwy on the live mix [AUD], then Jer trainwecks. It's all back together for the jam, but it's still a wash. [Try using the 132458_mtx, which runs a little >1% fast]. It's the only blemish of the show, so it that was confusing, just listen to the music play. Mexicali is a harbinger, as this Brown Eyed Women is one of the best ever (the show doesn't look back from here). After a solid Beat it on Down the Line-6, Sugaree starts spry but loses tempo, still satisfying. Jack Straw is wild, and another best-of-year contender. Row Jimmy also loses some tempo but still impresses. Tennessee Jed is cheerful & wooly. Big River is brisk and amazing. Musta Been Roses can be draggy in '74, but not here. A great example of the early, no-solo arrangement. The set ends with a 23min Playin' and a big jam (it will be followed, after the break, by the other big one). It's GOGD, but honestly not one of the best of '74 (being a huge year for PitB), at least not until after 20mins.
Second Set. From B to A+, this set is a joy. We now have the complete intermission performance by/of Seastones. Note that Jer comes out to play with Phil & Ned @13mins (times/pitches for 135883_sbd source). Billy joins right after, at first quietly. Jer starts to become dominant after 19mins, Billy after 21mins. Bobby comes out @23mins, and when Ned leaves his composition after 24mins it essentially becomes a GD Space. After 25½ mins Phil begins on bass. Keith joins after 26:30, and Bobby starts Eyes (this begins @33:20 in the track labeled Seastones on 135883_sbd; other labels have been Space or Eyes Intro). Jer picks it up @33:50, but with pull from Phil they expand back into a Space jam first, exploring their way into the most unusual Eyes opening jam ever; one that repeatedly touches on Eyes riffs (and from Phil, at points, Truckin' & Elastic Jazz), before fully forming, foaming, finally fermenting. Phil gets a huge bass solo 12½mins into Eyes proper (subsonic tones pulsing a helix through British chests). It then breaks down and goes way out for an Eyes. At 25mins it enters a Home Counties pastoral jam and ... well, there's a lot to pull apart, but let's just say a unique classic. From the first riffs to the start of Wharf it's a 39min29sec Eyes (and a Phil showcase tonight). As they bleed into Wharf Rat, Billy pulls Jer up to tempo, who then plays harmonics (which is rare for Jer). There are nice little bits and a fine jam. Listen for Jer laughing after playing 72mins. Ned said it was in pure glee. Ship of Fools is slowed, but has a great solo. Goin' Down the Road is a crazy-good version, and Sugar Mag is all energy with a sideways attack from Jer. The set goes AUD here, so you have to listen closer (AUD needs -2% pitch correction @5:39; -1% for the encore; and the channels are switched). U.S. Blues can be appreciated as one of the greats. They encored this two days in a row, perhaps thinking that Brits didn't have the Yank tradition of seeing runs.
1st Set: A 2nd Set: A
Overall = 5 stars
1st set – all but the bookends
2nd set – all
SOURCES: Older SBD sources all have parts running too fast and parts too slow. The bertha-ashley_7365 fixed many issues but is a bit echoey and has compression artifacts. The remaster/upgrade is 135883_sbd_miller. It is the most complete yet and is mostly repitched and patched (with corrections needed, as above). It does have several tunings cut and needs some VOL and BAL. The AUD (131901_aud) mostly runs too slow. Six songs from the first set are on Dick's #7.
Best show of the run. From set 1 Dick included BIODTL, Ten Jed, and PITB (disc 1) and Jack Straw, BEW, Big River (disc 2). Oddly enough, the best set of the run didn't make the cut, in any capacity. Then again, just listen to the very chatty British audience during Seastones (which is great, btw) and perhaps the seemingly odd omission starts to make sense. Not even the Eyes, though! But we don't question the fearless Dick, am I right? For a change, I find myself agreeing with Mind Wondrin: A+ second set.